Mumbai: After two weeks of thrilling, edge of the seat and intense cricketing action, which saw some dreams coming true and some hearts getting shattered, the race towards the inaugural Women’s Premier League (WPL) trophy has narrowed down to three teams, namely Delhi Capitals, Mumbai Indians, and UP Warriorz.
Mumbai Indians was the first team to qualify for the playoffs while Delhi Capitals was the second. UP Warriorz sealed the final playoff spot after a thrilling three-wicket win over Gujarat Giants on the double-header Monday, which also witnessed Delhi Capitals locking horns with Mumbai Indians, a match which DC won by nine wickets. After the results of these two matches, Delhi Capitals currently stands at the top of the points table. They have won a total of five matches, lost two in seven games and have 10 points in total. Mumbai Indians have the exact same win-loss record, but have been pushed down to the second spot due to an inferior net-run rate. UP Warriorz has confirmed its third-place finish in the competition. They have won four matches, lost three and have a total of eight points.
It is the end of the road in this tournament for Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) and Gujarat Giants (GG). RCB is at the fourth position with two wins and five losses in seven matches and total of four points. GG is at the bottom of the table with two wins, six losses in eight games and finish with four points as well. Though RCB has a game against Mumbai Indians left, winning it would not make a difference for the side as they will finish with six points, still two short of the third-placed UP.
In the first match of the day, Gujarat Giants opted to bat first and put up a total of 178/6 in 20 overs. After being reduced to 50/3 in the powerplay, a 93-run stand between Ashleigh Gardner (60 off 39 balls, six fours and three sixes) and Dayalan Hemalatha (57 off 33 balls, six fours and three sixes) pushed Gujarat to a competitive total. Parshavi Chopra (2/29) and Rajeshwari Gayakwad (2/39) stood out in UPW’s bowling.
In their chase of 179, UPW was reduced to 39/3 in 4.5 overs. After this, an 82-run stand for the fourth wicket between Tahlia McGrath (57 off 38 balls, 11 fours) and Grace Harris (72 off 41 balls, seven fours and four sixes) brought back UPW into the game. Sophie Ecclestone (19*) hit the winning four to seal a last-over win with a ball to spare. Kim Garth (2/29) was a standout bowler for GG, but her efforts did not help produce a desired result.
Grace won the ‘Player of the Match’ award for her knock. Also with her one wicket, Sophie Ecclestone became the ‘Purple Cap’ holder for most wickets in WPL, with a total of 13 scalps in seven matches at an economy of 6.21 with 4/13 as her best bowling figures. She overtook MI’s spinner Saika Ishaque, who has 12 wickets in the tournament so far.
After the match, UP Warriorz skipper Alyssa Healy lauded her side for the entertainment they brought to the league. She also lauded Grace, Tahlia and Ecclestone for their consistency.
“Box ticked, leave it to us to have an entertaining game. Our batting unit held their nerves and pulled it off for us but credit to the bowlers as well. It looks that way, in some of the chases we lost a few early wickets, knowing the power we got in the middle we got the freedom up top but Grace, Tahlia and Ecclestone are doing amazing things with the bat for us. We will probably enjoy the night that we have qualified. That is all what we needed and I am really proud of the group,” said Healy.
On the other hand, Gujarat Giants skipper Sneh Rana said, “The girls were amazing, they played really good cricket. I should give them the credit for putting in a good score for us. I think the girls have done whatever they have been told to do. The bowlers were good too. (On Hemalatha’s innings) She has played an amazing knock today, I mean she was effortless today. (On Grace Harris) She is a strong opponent. Anything short and in her area, would go out for sure.”
Man of the Match Grace remarked that she felt “scratchy” at the start but found her range later. “I like to finish games,” she added.